FirstClose appoints industry veteran Craig Austin as Executive Vice President

Austin's Experience Will Help Sales & Customer Success Navigate Company's Significant Growth Trajectory

AUSTIN, TX (August 24, 2022) — FirstClose, Inc., a leading Fintech provider of digital HELOC solutions for banks, credit unions, and lenders nationwide, announces the appointment of Craig Austin as Executive Vice President to lead both new customer and existing customer initiatives. This move comes on the heels of two recent hires of Account Executives to bring FirstClose’s digital HELOC solutions to market. FirstClose is even better prepared to continue scaling its sales organization under Austin and after its growth equity investment from Lateral Investment Management in May.

“As the leader in digital HELOC solutions and given the perfect storm of the market environment for financial institutions to dramatically increase their home equity volumes, FirstClose’s sales organization is at the front lines of helping lenders optimize home equity lending or even enter home equity lending. FirstClose continues to attract top talent from the industry as we bring to market a digital HELOC solution 22 years in the making. FirstClose’s continued success requires adding additional knowledge and expertise to our leadership team to provide strategic-level thinking while delivering superior customer experiences,” said Tim Smith, FirstClose Chief Revenue Officer. “Austin’s pedigree of success throughout the real estate technology industry will be invaluable as FirstClose scales its sales and account management organizations to meet the growing demand for digital HELOC solutions and to continue being a value-adding service provider to our customer base.”

This is the beginning of the Golden Age of home equity lending in the U.S. Tappable home equity, the amount available for homeowners to access while retaining at least 20% equity in their homes, rose again for the 10th consecutive time, according to Black Knight. Tappable home equity stands around $11.5 trillion as of 8/2/22. The Fed raised interest rates by 0.75% twice in a row, and many expect a further interest rate hike in September. The rising rates have led to a precipitous fall in the demand for refinance mortgages, falling 82% from the prior year, according to the MBA Refinance Index.

The demand for a simple and easy way to get instant feedback on a home value, available home equity, and instant loan decision while applying for a HELOC or home equity loan has become a business imperative for financial institutions across the U.S. Many financial institutions are increasing emphasis on existing home equity lending units, devoting more resources to build out fledgling home equity resources, and even entering home equity lending for the first time. FirstClose’s digital HELOC solution provides demonstrable value for each instance.

“I am thrilled to take on this role at such an exciting time for FirstClose and our industry. The FirstClose Digital HELOC Solution is a game-changer for our customers and those lenders looking to transform their home equity lending. The FirstClose solution introduces automation, quality, and speed in a way that I have not seen before. They put their customers at the center of everything they do and are true experts in delivering real estate solutions with a proven 23-year track record,” said Austin.

Craig is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of working in financial services in the information technology and services fields. He is skilled in Banking and Mortgage, Business Development, Account Management, and Sales Team Building. Craig is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University with a major in Communication.

About FirstClose

FirstClose is a highly respected provider of best-in-class property & borrower data intelligence and settlement services nationwide. We specialize in delivering a powerful web app and LOS plugin that is the industry’s first and only home equity and refi tool that offers everything from application to servicing (credit score, valuation, title, tax, flood, closing and recording) on one easy-to-navigate platform. In addition, we deliver simplified vendor management by consolidating vendors and products on this one platform. FirstClose makes it easy to identify and repair the gaps where lender profits can be maximized. For more information on FirstClose, Your ONE Solutions for Property & Borrower Data Intelligence, call 877.677.3282 or visit


Michael Hammond, JD, CMT

Founder & President

NexLevel Advisors


More News